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I'll ask this again, and Mr. Kantor


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Where do the TSW series fit in the whole "scheme of things" at AR?

Mr. Ken Kantor, were you around when this line was created? If not, do you know who was, and what is your opinion of these speakers if you have experienced them? I would be very interested in hearing your opinions.

Mark makes fun of me when I call them the "bastard child" of the AR line(s). I sure as hell know that replacement parts are almost impossible to find! I know they are a permanent resident here(4 pairs). Maybe I'll get around to the "classic" AR9's if I ever am lucky enough to come upon some good ones!

Happy Holidays


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The TSW series was introduced in 1987. It was the next line after the BXi series of product. TSW, of course, stood for "Titanium/Solid Wood," a reference to their titanium tweeters and solid walnut or oak top and bottom cabinet panels.

(It should be noted that the Connoisseur Series overlapped the BXi and TSW families of products. The Connoisseur Series was AR’s attempt at very high end, sophisticated audiophile-type speakers, utilizing real wood veneer cabinetry, multi-input binding post terminals, and expensive component crossovers. I had a pair of the model 50T’s (a very large 12", 3-way floorstander with dedicated angled pedestal stands), which featured 1" thick cabinet walls and tri-amp (!) input connections. They were $1500/pr. including the stands in 1986, which was pretty pricey. Did they sound good? Yes, they were good, but when I refurbished my 11’s a few years later, I gave the 50‘s to my Dad. I have full color literature on these speakers, so as soon as Mark gets through scanning my ADD color lit, I’ll send this out to him.)

The TSW was a very comprehensive range of products, and went through several generations over the years. Although most people remember the 910, 810, 610, and 510, there was also a 710 (dual 8-inchers in a very slender cabinet), a 115P (the same guts as the Powered Partner, but in the TSW-style wood cabinet instead of the Partner’s aluminum cabinet), and a later-generation of models with "15" suffixes, instead of "10" suffixes, i.e., the TSW-215, 315, 415, etc. (A humorous aside—I was speaking with a former AR marketing executive of that era, and he said that internally at AR, "TSW" stood for "This S**t Works!"

When the TSW line was developed, AR’s VP of engineering was Alex DeCoster. There were several extremely talented individual engineers who carried out the specific design work on the different models, such as Mark Nazar, Andy Lewis, and others. Mark and Andy have continued their distinguished work with other companies since they’ve left AR, although I don’t know what Mr. DeCoster is doing these days.

I bought both TSW-110’s (a 6 1/2" 2-way) and TSW-105’s (a 4" 2-way) to use as extension speakers around my house. They’re both considerably smaller than even the smallest of the classic models like the AR-7, and they’ve served me well in that non-critical role.

All in all, the TSW line was a respectable, presentable hi-fi product, but nothing about it was spectacularly different or better than similar speakers from other good companies of that era. And for AR speakers to be merely "as good as" those of other reputable companies, was for me, a real disappointment.

The last truly groundbreaking, envelope-pushing AR product was, of course, Mr. Kantor’s MGC-1 (and I suppose to a lessor extent, the MGC-2 of 1988, although I’m not sure how much Ken had to do with that one). The Magic Speakers were apart on their own, totally independent of the BXi, TSW, or Connoisseur speakers. In the June 1985 Stereo Review, Julian Hirsch said of the MGC-1, "The MGC-1 is one of the best-sounding speakers you are likely to find." And High Fidelity said in their May 1986 review, "We rank the MGC-1 among the world’s great loudspeakers." The Magic Speakers represented creative thinking and inventive execution in the best tradition of previous AR innovations.

Steve F.

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Steve's got it covered. (And thanks for the very kind words!)

The TSW Series was done just after I left, by a very strong engineering team. In my opinion, the line ranges from good to excellent.

There was a great deal of uncertainty in the direction of the company at the time, to my mind. On one hand, there had just been a thrust towards technology investment and risk-taking that grew out of the AR-9 program: the ADSP, the MGC-1, the ETL table, a program in electrostatics, FFT- and perceptually-based measurement, ambience synthesis, etc. On the other hand, competitive pressures were taking their toll on profits, and there was backlash towards conservative products based on known approaches.

The TSW was born in that climate, and while it may have disappointed some from a "vision" point of view, it was a well-made, solid offering.

Ken Kantor


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Thanks for the info, guys.

It at least gives me some background on the speakers I truly love. I go to the local hi-fi store and laugh at the chumps buying truly overpriced speakers that in my opinion do not sound any better than mine.

They of course sport the requisite titanium-aluminide-kevlar-nickel-thorium cones and have the Co-Fe-Gamma thingamajiggie tweeter with the wet powder coating of rose petals, but if they don't sound good, what the heck would I wanna pay $1999 a side for mains? Yes, there are indeed better speakers than mine/ours out there, but the prices are just not worth it to me.

And a subwoofer, fuggetaboutit, these 910's have rendered them useless in my opinion and for my needs. Sure a dedicated sub is always a good addition, but do I really need to crack concrete in my home? That's why I have subwoofers in my car, the TSW 910's wouldn't fit!!!

Happy New Year,


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